Santo Domingo to Belorado — 14.5 miles
Loaded with my backpack, 2 pounds of water and a quarter of a cheese sandwich in my pocket, Dick walked me out of Parador Santo Domingo de la Calzada at 05:45 a.m. Like yesterday, it was pitch dark and I had my headlamp in my hand. As soon as I got on the Camino path I saw another trekker ahead of me so I thought I’d be o.k. I passed him and quickly caught up with 4 guys from Australia. The path was gravel and dirt and I couldn’t see the ground but just hoped I wouldn’t trip or fall into a hole. No one else was using a light so I didn’t want to turn mine on and be the sissy of the group!
After a mile of following them uphill they crossed the highway and stopped. The Way was not well marked — there were 3 different ways you could go — straight ahead, all the way to the right or at a diagonal in between. There were groups going in all 3 of those directions. Well, the Aussies chose the diagonal, I followed them and then everyone else turned around and followed them, too. We were now on the correct path but that could have been a big mistake in the dark if everyone had been by themselves.
I chose to stay behind the Aussies for the next 5 miles until they stopped for a bathroom break and coffee. I tried to get coffee there, too but couldn’t get waited on quickly enough so I decided to just keep walking. Most of today’s walk paralleled the highway on one side with green hills on the other side. It went up and down and up and down and there was really no diversion except for the occasional smell of exhaust fumes from big rigs passing by.
This was the only place to get coffee that I saw for the entire walk. The other little villages looked like ghost towns.
This is what most of the Camino looked like today.
I ate the cheese sandwich while walking but was exhausted after 10 miles. The Beatles song “Help” started playing in my head again and I was so sick of it that I started thinking about how I felt and here’s how it went: I’m hot, I’m tired and my shirt is wet. I’m hot and tired — are we there yet? My feet hurt, they’re fiery hot, I feel like I’m stepping on a lot of rocks. My legs ache and my hips hurt and did I mention I was wearing a wet t-shirt? And to add to those ailments, did I tell you that my nose runs constantly — it never stops — like a dripping faucet? I am not liking today at all. It is tedious and never-ending.
I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.
I finally walked into Belorado. Dick had texted that he was already there when I suddenly got a message from him that said, “STOP.” I had gone a little too far and he was coming to try and find me. He was tracking me on “Find My Friends” and he knew I was already through the town and on my way out. I stayed where I was and he found me a few minutes later.
The hotel room wasn’t ready so we sat outside for a coffee and some of that sweet, fresh squeezed orange juice. I peeled off my shoes and socks, let my feet soak up the sun, leaned back in the patio chair and almost fell asleep.
Later in the afternoon we tried to make reservations for the next night but everything, and I mean “everything” in every little mountain town along the Camino was full. We finally found a hotel farther than I wanted to walk the next day and it was a few kilometers off the Camino path, but it was the only thing available for tomorrow night. We made reservations there because we had no other choice. These are such small towns that busses don’t even go to them. Dick will have to take a very expensive taxi to meet me tomorrow.
They’re dropping like flies! People are quitting the Camino and going home. Each night Dick has told me stories about people he has met during the day and while taking the bus. There are so many of them who have decided to quit the Camino. A young girl, 23 years old, had hips so sore that she could hardly walk. She was returning home to Nebraska. He has met numerous people with blisters covering their entire heel and the tops of their toes. One woman from the U.S. had been sitting in Najera for 4 days waiting for her blisters to heal before she continued on. A teacher from Spain had shin splints so bad that he took the bus with Dick for 3 days. Today was the first day he would try to continue walking. On day 3, one 40 year old girl and a woman in her 50’s, who were from Holland, were quitting the Camino because of painful blisters on their feet.
And now let’s get to the people who are taking the bus with Dick each day. On day 2, from Roncesvalles there were only 2 pilgrims who took the bus to the next town — Dick and another guy who had crashed his bike. A couple days later, in Pamplona, there were about 15 trekkers boarding the bus. A few days after that there were 21 trekkers on the bus with Dick. The number increases each day with the highest being 46 as of yesterday. And remember, busses travel from town to town several times a day. Dick is only counting the trekkers who are on his bus. I am also noticing there are less Pilgrims on the Camino. There used to be several in front of or behind me at any one time but now I only see one or two at a time. And, a lot of Pilgrims are simply choosing to take the bus from town to town, instead of walking — and they have no ailments at all.
We’re sharing a pizza in the central square in Belorado. First of all, notice Dick’s beard. He hasn’t shaved since we left home. But, notice also that there are no other Pilgrims around. It’s 8 p.m. in Spain — dinner time. Where is everyone? Where are all the trekkers? They are simply disappearing day by day.
Sent from Karen’s iPad